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From Yuba City to UCLA


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Hannah Payne is perhaps more comfortable on the other side of the questions—while she’s currently undeclared, the Yuba City, Calif. senior begins her education at UCLA this fall and plans to pursue a major in communications with a double minor in journalism and film. As the oldest sibling, she admits she was a bit clueless as she began the college application process. Luckily, the team at ESM entered her life in September of her senior year, changing her entire educational trajectory.

“I have always had big dreams for college, but before ESM, they were just dreams. ESM helped me express my passions, goals, and qualifications on my application in the best way. ESM provided me with the tools and guidance needed to raise my SAT scores by 150 points in just two months,” Hannah says.

While she didn’t realize it was possible to write ten versions of the same essay or to wait patiently for a response that was out of her control, she’s happy that she did. “You do your best, press submit, and then wait,” Hannah remembers.

A self identified perfectionist, Hannah struggled with the “waiting” part of the college application process, but says that ESM helped her realize that you end up where you’re meant to be—that, as she puts it, “the uncertainty, questioning, and hard work is so worth it.” For her, that place was UCLA.

Hannah attributes “Bruin Day” as the day she knew UCLA was for her. She’s excited because she knows that UCLA will both make her feel at home and challenge her—a perfect fit, she says. At UCLA, she plans to get involved with a sorority and an on-campus Christian ministry. Hannah adds, “That, combined with the academics, price, school spirit, and the fact that James Franco is a professor made it impossible to say no!”

After school, Hannah hopes to work as a news reporter, which she believes will combine her passion for television and investigative journalism. It seems like a natural fit, given her proclivity for acting, singing, travel, reading, and writing for blogs. Hannah hopes to use her experience at UCLA to propel her to new heights. She’d love to work with the likes of Katie Couric, whom she admires for her intelligence, strength, and role in paving the way for women in the news.

Hannah, who describes herself as ebullient, is just that—enthusiastic, optimistic, and destined for great things. But, she says, she wouldn’t be making these next steps without the help of ESM. “Thank you, thank you, thank you to Billy, Ryan, and the whole ESM team! I am forever grateful to ESM for helping shape my dreams into reality.”